You have the “perfect” dog. He or she has learned basic commands. They walk gently beside you on a leash and they leave all your slippers alone! But when it comes to trimming their nails or giving them a medication prescribed by your veterinarian, life can get difficult.
If this all sounds too familiar to you, here are some tips from the Fear Free® program to help make things easier. The overall health, behaviour, and wellness of the animals in our care is our top priority, and Fear Free® helps keep them happy, healthy and ready to find loving homes. By reducing fear, anxiety and stress, you and your furry friend will have a much more pleasant experience.
What can I do? Create a fear free environment
Before you get started, it’s important to create a fear free environment for your pet.
- Think about the noise your dog is being exposed to. Remember, a dog’s hearing is much more sensitive than ours (up to 4x more sensitive!). Speak to your dog calmly and quietly, keeping your voice down. It is important to minimize the volume of music and choose something that is soothing and calming to dogs. This could be classical music or music created specifically for dogs.
- The surface you choose to use is also important. Animals can be stressed by the surfaces they come in contact with and can even develop a fear response to them. Provide a surface that has traction, like a rug or yoga mat, to help your dog remain calm and comfortable during a procedure.
- Consider using Adaptil – A dog pheromone that nursing mothers naturally produce to calm their puppies. This appeasing effect helps dogs deal with stressful situations. There are a few forms of use for this pheromone, including a collar, spray, or diffuser. Ask your veterinarian what is best for your dog.
Take your time. Patience is key to success. Start by slowly desensitizing your dog. Start by touching your dogs’ feet – that’s it, just touching. Follow this with a treat to make it a positive, stress-free experience. Once your dog becomes comfortable with this, try touching his or her nails with a nail trimmer. No actual trimming yet, just touching. And of course, more treats.
The next step is to try trimming one nail, followed by – you guessed it – more treats. If there is no negative reaction to it, continue with additional nails, treat and repeat. If your dog shows fear, anxiety or stress towards the nail trim, stop and go back a step in the process. Again the idea is to slowly desensitize your dog to the experience and it can take some time, but your patience will pay off.
Don’t forget the value of treats! They can help create positive interactions and decrease stress, fear and anxiety.
For a demonstration, you can watch this how to YouTube video!
To learn about Fear Free® techniques for cat treatments, click here.
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